Pretoria – The taxi industry in Pretoria has rejected the new multimillion-rand ranking facility near the intersection of South Street and Hendrik Verwoerd Drive in Centurion, describing it as an insult to public transport stakeholders.
The chairperson of the Tshwane Taxi Association, Abner Tsebe, yesterday said the regional structures of the National Taxi Alliance and South African National Taxi Council did not take the R12 million facility seriously because it did not cater for their needs or those of the public.
He said the facility did not even have shelter facilities for passengers, queue marshals and taxi operators.
“We do not take that taxi rank seriously. We will not use it because to us it just looks like a big parking lot. Even shopping malls build better taxi ranks than that.
“We told the City about the lack of shelter and they said they would get it done, but nothing has been done to this point. “I think, also, that a lot of things were disturbed by the politics in the Tshwane council.
“Sometimes the mistake that the government makes is to approach consultation with the misperception of divide and conquer. They invite one taxi association to discuss something like a rank, but forget it is a public facility and will include people and taxis going to a lot of areas outside Tshwane.”
Tsebe said that as things stood, the industry was not impressed with the taxi rank and they were not prepared to use it.
He said it was planned and built by officials who did not use public transport or know its requirements.
“Right now we are experiencing extreme heat and the rainy season is also upon us.
“You can imagine that such a taxi rank would not be for the benefit of passengers without shelter. We asked for the shelter and we are still waiting,” he said.
There have been delays in building the facility, including fears that the construction site might be dolomitic, but that was eventually ruled out.
Since planning started two years ago, there has been a spate of vandalism and theft by criminals who made off with bricks, metal and steel.
Redefine Properties is funding the project as part of its corporate social investment.
If and when it does become operational, the facility will be operated by the Centurion Taxi Association, which will manage it jointly with the City of Tshwane and Centurion Mall.
An estimated 15 000 commuters were expected to use it. The metro has also said the facility would not only improve access to taxis for those who live and work in Pretoria, but would also complement the area aesthetically.
It is designed to accommodate offices for taxi associations, provide 22 informal traders’ kiosks, public toilets and free wi-fi, among a host of other amenities.
Taxis are continuing to operate from a temporary site they were moved to when the original site was taken over to be used as corporate space.
The rank project was launched in August last year by then mayor Stephens Mokgalapa, who asked the taxi industry to take care of it, saying it belonged to the people of Centurion.
He applauded the private sector for dedicating R12m for the construction of the facility, which covers approximately 10 000m².
It has parking capacity for 55 taxis at any time.
The rank will have a proper, integrated public transport system in the area. In January, following delays in construction, the City said everything was on course to complete the project by the end of February.
That failed to materialise.
The facility is divided into two categories – holding and loading.
This means that as one taxi is loading passengers, it will make space for the next one.
A commuter who asked not to be named yesterday lamented the fact that the taxi rank had yet to open.
She said that with the rainy season, they would yet again be forced to wade through mud and pools of water at the temporary taxi rank, which had no paving.
“We buy fruit and vegetables from informal traders before boarding taxis. At this temporary site, they have no cover; we buy products that have been in the sun all day and thus are no longer fresh,” she said.
The City yesterday said it was consulting with the relevant stakeholders before commenting on the project and the position taken by the taxi industry.